This is what worries many last semester M.A.s, finishing PhDs and postdocs with ending contracts:

How on earth will I find an adequate job after university??

Does that question worry you, too?

It’s true that millions of employees worldwide are put to short-time work or lose their jobs. Many companies are facing a hiring freeze. All in all, the job market couldn’t get any worse.

Unless you’ve got a PhD or, worse still, several years of postdoc experience, or simply studied a subject that no one needs – or all of the above. I mean, even under normal circumstances, it’s hard to get a good job with this problematic precondition!

Wait. Do you actually believe what you just read?

Yes? Does it help?

I bet not.

So, how about some constructive strategies instead?

I knew you’d like that.

1. Try it anyway

Yes, it’s the most banal and, yet, also the easiest to forget. It’s tempting to resign and convince yourself to wait until it’s all over. But passivity would be the worst you can do to increase your chances of getting a job. Obvious. So: try and try again and again and again. Make a statistical game of it, like salespeople do. They know that, on average, they need to make 100 “cold calls” to gain 2 new customers. So with every “no” they hear they become more excited because they know that the next “yes” is one call closer. What’s your personal statistic? How many applications do you need to send off to get one invitation? To find motivation, listen to Jia Jiang’s TED talk on rejection therapy.

2. Networks, networks, networks

Make sure your LinkedIn and Xing profiles are up to date and sexy. Then, INTERACT with people, groups, and companies you find interesting. Ask smart questions, connect with people from your live networks and with new people, comment other people’s content and publish your own content (relevant to your target job field). Enjoy your growing contact list. Ask individual contacts for a phone call to tell you more about their work.

Start your own regular online group to motivate and support each other.

If you want to know how to make sure that your online profile and CV are the best possible match with your future job requirements, download the guide below.

 3. Have a proven track-record of in-demand online skills

If you’re still at university, now is a great time to develop excellent online-teaching skills via any of the popular software solutions, preferably several of them. Perhaps you’ll profit from your university’s license for one of the more expensive and more frequently used solutions in industry, such as MS Teams or Adobe Connect. You don’t teach (anymore)? What other online formats could you use or develop that would underline your skills in this area?

4. Volunteer

Help your elderly neighbours. Offer your online education knowhow to the school nearest to you. Or to individual teachers. Organise a donation of laptops for disadvantaged children. Sew masks and give them to those in need. Google “volunteering during covid 19 in my area” or anything similar and see what fits. Volunteering, especially during a crisis, is something employers will appreciate. Along the way, you’ll make new connections and cultivate your creative mind.

5. Work freelance

Freelance work – even if it is in an area you’re not particularly interested in – can be a great way to widen your network, to stop brooding and to earn a living. I know people with university degrees who have decided to join the delivery crew of cargo bike and food delivery services to finance their creative writing project. But you can also try freelance work to test a business idea. But keep in mind that a possible lack of success might be due to the current economic crisis.

6. Send off unsolicited applications

Even if hiring is temporarily put on hold, you should write and send unsolicited applications to organisations you’d like to work for. Hiring will start again one day and when it does, recruiters and hiring managers will likely go through their applicants’ pool before they advertise for open positions. –

By the way, hiring has not stopped everywhere. Many places are still hiring. See tbd*’s job board for positions in NGOs and the public service in Germany.

And some places are hiring more than ever before:

7. Consider the following industries

The short-term winners of this crisis (find an elaboration on these examples here and here):

  • cloud computing
  • video conferencing and online calls
  • electronic payments
  • e-commerce
  • streaming
  • gaming and video content platforms
  • online grocery delivery
  • telecommunications industry
  • companies developing and selling COVID-19 tests
  • hygienic articles
  • cleaning articles

These industries are experiencing a boost right now. It’s only logical that they require more staff. If you now think that you don’t have any of the required skills, think again. Every company consists of a variety of departments and positions. There’s sales. There’s HR. There’s research and concept related work. There’s communications. And a lot more that you’ll only find out if you actively start looking.

Mid-term projections: automotive and bicycle industries

The idea behind this: With public transport being a high-risk environment for contamination, more people will want to use a car or a bicycle. Looking at thriving economies shortly after SARS has shown that this idea has held up one time already. The same might happen with coronavirus.

Recession-proof industries (find the rationale behind these examples here):

  • healthcare (including long-term care)
  • consumer staples
  • discount retailers
  • utilities (electricity, water, gas)
  • service and repair companies
  • “sin industries” (booze, cigarettes, chocolate 😉 – and of course, porn)
  • fast food
  • retail consignment (second-hand clothes)
  • home renovation businesses
  • staffing firms
  • trash services
  • pawn shops
  • funeral services

And now what?

Make a list of companies in your area that you find interesting with respect to your target job. Then apply the strategies suggested above. Be persistent, creative and active! Find the fun part in these not-so-funny times.

Land your target job outside academia

Join my email list and create the best possible match with your future job - even if you believe you don't have any of the required skills.

Thank you! Please check your e-mail to confirm the subscription.

Meet me and potential participants of the CONNECT program

Join this spring's invitation list to receive the Zoom link where we will meet on Tuesday, 26th March, from 2-4 pm. If you're interested, but this date doesn't work for you, or you have a question, drop me an e-mail at ulrike [at]

By registering your name and email address here, you are ONLY joining this spring's invitation list. You can join my newsletter here.

Thank you! Please check your e-mail for the GDPR-required double opt-in.